Posted: December 21, 2016

Developing a strategy for Chesapeake Bay restoration.

Map of the Chesapeake Bay

As Pennsylvania renews efforts to clean the state's waterways and the Chesapeake Bay, the College of Agricultural Sciences is helping to craft a strategy in which farmers spearhead clean-water initiatives.

Agriculture has high standards for conservation, with roots in a culture of stewardship, and farmers are ready to lead and be the solution for clean water, according to Matthew Royer, director of the Agriculture and Environment Center.

"While much progress has been made to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution from agriculture, more work needs to be done," Royer said. "Agriculture is well positioned to take on the challenge."

In early March in Hershey, Royer coordinated a three-day conference, hosted by Penn State, aimed at developing a strategy for Pennsylvania contributing to Chesapeake Bay restoration. The event, titled "Pennsylvania in the Balance," included leaders in agriculture and the environment working together to identify new, innovative solutions that can help ensure the state maintains a vibrant and productive agriculture industry while meeting water-quality goals for the Commonwealth's rivers and streams and the Chesapeake Bay.

The conference was sponsored by Penn State, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, federal and state government agencies, nonprofit groups, agricultural organizations, and private-sector businesses. The event attracted about 120 diverse stakeholders, including agricultural producers and industry representatives, scientists, federal and state agencies, extension personnel, agricultural and environmental attorneys, nonprofit conservation organizations, conservation districts, and planners. They covered key topics such as targeting resources, technical assistance, innovation, incentives, compliance, and new funding strategies.

"Participants identified barriers, opportunities, and solutions; asked and answered hard questions; and identified pathways forward to implement actionable outcomes," Royer said. "This collective effort has the potential to complement and enhance the Commonwealth's recently announced new strategy for Chesapeake Bay restoration."

With the hope of shaping policy, Royer will use the proposals developed during the conference to produce a strategy document with clear action items, which will be shared with the state Departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

--Jeff Mulhollem